Dirk Nowitzki And The Virtues Of Immigration

Having offered an unpopular progressive case for the Miami Heat before their defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, it’s worth considering the success of Dallas as a case study in the virtues of immigration.

The case here is straightforward. The Mavericks are by no means a one-man show, but they rely on a German guy as their main shot-taker and point-scorer. No Dirk, no championship. What’s more, Nowitzki’s skills are to a considerable extent complementary to the skills of other workers employed by the Mavericks. Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd are prodigious rebounders, for example. Combining their skills with Nowitzki’s more scoring-oriented game enhances the value of both players. It’s not necessarily a case of any of them “making their teammates better” as much as it is a case of there being significant economic rewards to playing deeper into the playoffs. At the same time, there’s only one ball. No matter how much shooting talent you employ, only one guy can take the shot. No matter how much rebounding talent you employ, only one guy can grab the rebound. But by combining players with different talents, you can put together a more formidable firm. And Nowitzki, in particular, offered a extremely unusual skillset — a seven-foot-tall player who can shoot accurately with range.

America’s openness to the world’s most skilled basketball players — regardless of the country of their birth — helps ensure that America will continue to be the location of the most important basketball league. We have the best league because the best players from all around the world play here. And the best players want to play here because they want to prove themselves in the best league. And because it’s the best league, it’s able to obtain global recognition and a global audience so that talented basketball players all around the world know that it’s the best league and they want to play here. Trying to preserve “good NBA jobs” by keeping foreigners out would be an extremely shortsighted move that only served to undermine the longer-term sources of American basketball domination.